When the going gets tough! 

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We all know the second part of the sentence; “The tough get going”! We are living in extraordinary times, and we will give an exceptional response to the situation! I am confident about it. The subject came into my mind when I read a lot of exchange on the WA group of a coop housing society, where I have a home, but currently our house there is locked, and we live elsewhere. Most of the people living there are high earning professionals who must be reasonably senior by now. We moved out from there end of 2013!

I read an apt comment from my young friend Sandeep. He said that it is a great opportunity to show the world that the husband/wife pair is “MAID” for each other. I added this sentence by editing this blog which was already published!

The subject was about the maids that come and work in the homes. Under Coronavirus threat, and curfew declared by the governments, most of these maids may not be able to go for work. The reasons can be the fear of the curfew declared. They are afraid of the police, and their neighbours are forcing them not to go. By no means, their services can be declared as essential services, like police, cleaning staff, hospital staff. One of our housemaids came yesterday. Her neighbours would not allow her to go out for work. She cheated and came; she was worried about her wages. Jaya told her that we would pay her even if she does not come for work. She asked Jaya when are they stopping all the flights? Jaya asked her the reason to know this. She said, “People in our area say that unless the flights are banned, this epidemic will not go. But these are for rich people. How will the government stop them?” Another question she asked was, will she be safe if she goes and lives in her native place? Jaya asked her, “How will you get treatment in her native place if required?” She was confused but more worried. The bais as the maids are called are poor confused souls. Their life weaves around the families where they work. It is for money, any other stuff that we give them, moral support and knowledge. They are entirely dependent on us. Let me assure they want to come to work but …!

Let me share with you friends, the extraordinary situations that came up in my life. In 1980-81 Jaya got a United Nations fellowship for MS in the US. My son Sachin was six years old. I was around 30. As a family, we decided that Jaya should take this opportunity, and off she went. My parents lived nearby; we would go for food at their home. My father was very fond of Sachin. He would look after him till I came back from office. My father died suddenly after about three months of Jaya’s travel. But I told Jaya to continue with her education. We somehow managed to handle the situation; my mother overcame her grief to support the family. Extraordinary response from the family helped Jaya finish her MS with flying colours in nine months with 4.0 score!

We read so many stories of children from very low-income family clearing their IAS/IFS and such competitive exams. I will share one story. In the apartment where I lived initially, we had a family of two brothers. One of them was our watchman. Other brother used to work on construction sites. They had two children each. Watchman’s brother died in mid-nineties. Both their wives used to work in our house as support staff. I have watched their lives from close for twenty plus years. Last year somehow, we got their cell number. Jaya called them. Next day the whole family came to meet us. The wives continue to work as maids elsewhere. The watchman did farming in his native place and had some income. He would travel to his farm when required. The ladies came with two younger children. Both had become engineers were working in IT companies; the family had struggled all their lives.

Some of these thoughts came to mind as I have been reading and hearing about discussions on various WA groups. These were mainly about everybody staying at home, managing the cooking, with children at home 24/7- how long nobody is sure. Ladies are naturally stressed out because usual conventions indicate that they will have to bear the full brunt of things at home. Compared to the difficulties of the family mentioned above, I thought that we are better off. We do not have financial worries. We generally do not have to worry about water supply and electricity. The absence of maids could be stressful. But these extraordinary situations call for similar solutions. Equally busy husbands should raise their hands up and declare what responsibilities they are going to handle until this situation lasts. Or is it? Why not continue in the same vein even after humans overcome the current pandemic?

Let us not say that these things could be done by mothers only! Fathers could be equally efficient and proficient in attending PTA meetings! Why should fathers not take up morning chores like breakfast and chai-coffee? We should change the way we think. We are busy in the mornings with phone calls, emails, sending children to school and so on; you finish your dinner at night. Why not pack your tiffins at night? Is it not more efficient? You are going to keep the remaining food into some containers. Fill up the tiffins (dabbas) and then transfer balance food into containers! You are a professional and an expert. Show the same efficiency at home. Make sure that inventories are perfect at home, same as you manage at the office. Life becomes easier. Your star performer meets with an accident and is going to be away for six months. How do you handle it? You have your replacement star performers at home too! The hubby and the kids! It’s tough, but it is doable.

Consider a case of our neighbour who is seventy. She had a heart valve replacement surgery, 2 ½ months back, where all her ribs had to be cut open. Recovery time is five to six months at this age. Now suddenly, her nurse and the maid may not be able to come. They are trying to get permission at least for the nurse, which I am sure she will get. What must be her mental state? How is she going to manage? Her son lives out of India, and the daughter lives nearby. She must look after her children and old inlaws. Solution? I am not so sure. She must quarantine herself from neighbours like us too! Her immunity must be down post-surgery.

In 2013 December, I moved out of Sunshine Villa for family reasons. But the main reason was that I was detected with Cancer. There were practical reasons to move next to my daughter’s home. After three months of 34 radiation sittings, and Immunotherapy, I moved back to my routine in about three months. The “free” time I got during this period converted me into a blogger! In July, I had a Bharat Darshan tour to meet my customers. After that, I have been working hard and travelling well abroad as well as in India. It is possible to surmount odds. It is tough, but “The tough get going when the going gets tough!”

Friends, it is tough to change your lifestyle suddenly. But when there is no option, we do it. You will spend more time with your children. They will know what difficulties the mother’s face. That is a great learning curve for the whole family. Thanks to dear Coronavirus!

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Migration, Human and Birds!

Migration is a phenomenon that is happening since times unknown. Till permanent human settlements started, there was hardly any difference between human migration and migration by other species. Out of different species, birds are known to travel long distances for the reason of saving themselves from severe weather conditions. The species who could not fly had limitations of how much they could move to overcome harsh conditions. Humans must have also faced the same problems as these species. 

Polar bears handle the harsh winters differently. Nature has designed their body in such a way that they can prepare themselves in advance. The polar bears go into hibernation when the severe winter conditions begin. They go to sleep literally in caves, up to four months. They store enough food in their body and can go without food during hibernation. No other species hibernate like the bears, as per my knowledge. Turtles and other species are known to go to specific spots to lay their eggs, every year. Probably they “find” their “safe” area to lay eggs.  

Many birds like flamingos are known to travel thousands of km to protect themselves from harsh weather. It’s God’s design that has given the birds instincts and “GPS” to fly far away from their natural habitat. Human migration is a different phenomenon altogether. When did the human race move away from their nomadic phase? Once they started designing and creating various modes of transport, the migration process started. But the reasons for human migration very rarely have been the weather. In very few cases, human still moves to different locations during harsh weather conditions. It may be snow, rains or the harsh Sun! But now the reasons are many and varied. New ideas for migration keep getting added. There are so many aspects to non human migration,  maybe I will write separately on that subject. 

In migration between humans and other species, the main difference is the feelings, human bonds and the alienation that humans feelFor humans, ithe initial phase, migration started from adventure, to look for El Dorado, education, for jobs! Europeans travelled to the east to take over colonies to spread their empire. Reasons like political asylum or refuge to different countries to run away from wars or despotic regimes have now been added. Humans don’t mind going to places where the weather is harsh for improving their careers and leading better lives! My current sojourn made me think about how humans deal with the mental aspect and social aspect of life. It made me think about the assimilation of humans with the new society. It is about the social aspects of keeping in touch with friends and families back home. It is about keeping your own culture and taking part in the new culture. 

Anandi Gopal Joshi was the first wellknown migrant who went to the US to take medical education. I can’t even imagine how she must have managed it in those days. Anandibai died young at the of 22 in the year 1887. So naturally, we do not know what she went through in those days and how she handled it. Compared to the current level of communication, in those days, there was zero communication or as good as no communication. How must she have handled the initial phase after reaching the US? Did she have enough money to eat every day? Did she have sufficient warm clothing for the winter? I am sure she must have been a vegetarian, so what food did she eat in those days?  

Especially in the US and Canada, migration is nothing new. The countries came into being by the migration of the British, the Spanish and the French to that vast landmass overcoming and initially killing “the American Indians”! These countries came into being with war and migration — the main aim of reaching the landmass was to form the respective colonies.  

Since early 50 s of the last century, many people have been moving around the world, but large percentage move to the US for obvious reasons. In olden times the communication method must have been by postal mail, in today’s language snail mail. Telephones were rare in India, so communicating back home must have been difficult. know of someone who called his parents on the phone (parents had a phone at home in India) only once in fifteen years when his twins were born!   

Jaya was in the US for one year for her MS in 1980-81. We did not have phone at home in Pune. Jaya would send me a letter to fix the time on which she would call me at someone’s houseWe considered it lucky if we got connected within one hour of the set time.  

With pathbreaking changes in communication methods, today it is effortless to remain in touch with eacother. These changes help the migrated persons to be in touch with back home, and the emotional umbilical cord remains intact, helping to settle down quickly. But I have known of extreme cases of the communication spectrum.  

A classmate moved to the US in 70 s of the last century. He has travelled to India only once during these 45 plus years. I did not have the heart to ask him the reason, but from the discussion I had with him did not indicate any specific reasons– I did not probe. I know of a family who was at the other extremeTheir daughter moved after marriage. The parents would talk to her on the video chat for two to two and half hours every day for the first five years. I don’t want to become judgmental in this, but when are you going to make your children independent? I know that this same girl would have two to two and a half hours discussion or much less with her parents in a week, when she was in India.  

Migrated families have their practical difficulties. As they grow, so do their children. Those who have managed to remain connected with back home, they come for marriages and deaths in the families. That also later becomes difficult as they move up the ladder in their careers. They also want to take their family holidays in different parts of the world. Their connect becomes weak depending on case to case.  

Many people of my age now come back home to be away from harsh winters from November to March. But this is going to happen in people of my generation. How much connect will remain after we are gone is difficult to predictI always wonder how much relate will the thirdgeneration Panvalkar or Kulkarni will have with India?  

Frequency of coming “home starts reducing from one year to two years to maybe even five years. Such things can happen when parents back home don’t die early enough and get restrictions on travel. When these physical meetings start reducingI have seen in many families that the mother is waiting hoping to make that favourite dish, their “child” loved thirty years back. But the child does not have time when in India because of other commitments.  

Each individual, each family, handles these issues in their unique waysbut one thing is sure the situations will remain in flux and will keep on changing, which to me, is natural! How to handle such things? What is the magic wand? Where is the magic wandBut I hear from many of my generation, that the magic wand  is getting developed under the name of detachment!  

  

 

 

So long farewell, we too say Goodbye!

The link below is a song from the famous 1965 English movie, “Sound of Music.” The situation for the song is appropriate; there is a party going on at home, and the father expects the children to withdraw and go to sleep. I love this song; hence I am sharing the link for you.

In our lives, we also say farewell to people, situations, and homes. It is part of life and happens in the case of most of us. Sometimes we do so with knowledge, but sometimes we do it without realising it. The question will come in mind, “How do we do it without realising?” I did it without realising. After my first-year science year at Elphinstone College in Bombay, I moved to the college hostel at Churchgate in Mumbai. It was a natural recourse as my father was transferred outside Bombay. One beautiful day I entered the hostel, all bag, and baggage! Little did I realise that I had left my home, as I had known it forever. Our sister was married at that time, my parents, my elder brother, and I were our family. The same year my brother moved to the United States. So, the family, as we knew it, was reduced to only my parents!

I was all of 17 years old, and never realised the significance of my moving to the hostels. I completed my Inter-Science, moved from Elphinstone College Hostels to COEP Hostel in Pune. While in COEP I met Jaya, we got married after finishing my first degree and rest as they say is history. Did I realise the significance of moving to the hostel at Elphinstone College? Did I know that I will never go back “home”? Was I mentally prepared for that move? Was I mature enough to think in those terms? Honestly, I did not have that maturity; I did not have a clue! Studies were the last priority in those days, but we had a Parsee friend in hostels taking the Arts course; he made us study to ensure that we could get ourselves admitted to engineering courses. But we did have some students who had a tough time adjusting to life outside the warmth of their homes. I made one life long friend Sharad while at Telang Hostel!

In retrospection, did I miss something? Yes, of course, I did. I miss my father, especially as he died relatively early at the age of 63 when I was 31.  I was busy setting up my family and my home. My father was a person who would call a spade a spade; this trait I have picked up from him. He used to like to pun, would make some while chatting, another trait that I picked up from him. I once remember him pulling legs of his younger brother, bhau. My uncle, bhaukaka, in those days used to wear hard contact lenses; once, he was having difficulty wearing them.

My father coolly told him, “Bhau, why do not you wear glasses first so that you will be able to see where you are putting your lenses”! I would have laughed wholeheartedly, but due to the respect of the elderly, I only smiled looking at my father. He was supposedly adamant outwardly, but Jaya and I had an excellent rapport with him. Jaya was the first professional lady working in our family, and my father was supportive of her, always. When Jaya received a UN scholarship for an MS degree in the US, she asked my father if she can take this opportunity. Our son was six years old at that time. My father told her, “What is there to ask? Just go. Why do you think we are here?” Unfortunately, he died within three months of Jaya going to the US. I was lucky that my mother lived to be with us for the next 25 years. When I ruminate about leaving home in 1966, I always feel that I missed out on my father’s company. But the “If-Else” scenario is a double-edged weapon. If I had not left home in 1966, then I would not have met Jaya!

Till the end of the first half of the last century, life was relatively straightforward, not as dynamic as today. One was born and brought up in a town or a village. He lived in the same home as ancestors, either owned or rented. Went to school, going to college was not quite common in those days. He took up some work that was available, married, procreated, and died. There was not much change in their lives. If at all there was any migration, only the breadwinner would move to a more significant town or city, but the family would stay behind.  So, there were hardly any So Longs, Alvida or Sayonara!

My niece’s son got admitted to IIT ten years back. The day he was to move to IIT, we were with them in Bombay. I asked the kid, “Do you understand the significance of today?” He said, “Yes, I am joining IIT!” I said, “That is not what is important. Starting today, when you come to this place, which just now is your home, you will come with your bag as a guest. After your education, you will move elsewhere for further education. Then settle there and will get married and …..” I am sure if he reads this blog, he will remember what I had said. He works in Tesla in the US and is getting married in November!

In life, there are many other situations where “so long” situations come up. These are when you change your job when you retire, and another common situation that is coming up in people’s lives is divorce. In all these situations, the decision is not sudden. Yes, and we change homes too! I will share a small anecdote about home changing. A friend of my daughter met me once, and while chatting asked me where we lived. Then I told him about our home changes. He said, “You seem to be very cool about changing homes. My father still thinks of our Bombay home, which we left 30 years back, and he still feels unsettled.”

When you change jobs, it is an ongoing thing, and we generally know at least a couple of months before we change the position. Job change could result in a new job, starting your business, or moving to another country. In this situation, the relations that you have formed are not very deep, but for a small duration, we may feel a little uneasy. During one such job, I met a friend who became my life-long friend, Dilip; he unfortunately died last year. But such occurrences are infrequent. When you move to a foreign country, it is both an exciting and challenging call. Exciting for obvious reasons, but the tough call is because we are going to get cut off from our roots. Modern communication helps you reduce the distance, virtually, but there is no replacement for physical proximity. The “so long” is emotional because you are going to be far from your near and dear ones, your friends, and your daily smells and daily noises!

Even more challenging “so long” must be the case where couples divorce each other. Challenging situations are the reality of life and cannot be ignored. This number is increasing; during the process of divorce, the couples, I am sure, have a lot of hatred with each other. Then there will be aspects of money, children and many other vital aspects of life. So, I shudder to think as there may not be any “so long” after such a close relation!

The retirement phase, of course, must be a real emotional phase because you get cut off from whatever you were doing every day for 40 years, you get cut off from the very same people with whom you have been meeting day in and day out! I have now semi-retired, and I have gone through this phase recently. Everything else is manageable except the emotional part, but I think time heals everything.

Toughest, of course, is the final parting with this world! But there is a silver lining to this. You do not have to say “so long” as you do not get time to do so! You also do not know whether people miss you or they are happy that you are gone! 😊😊

Alvida, for now! Do not you worry; I am not going anywhere!

Game Changer or Disruption!

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I have been writing about Electric Vehicles; for updates I keep on talking to people in the industry, read on the net and am lucky enough to have someone in Tesla to update my understanding of EV’s. I am no technical expert in this field but I can feel that something big is definitely happening. Hope I am able to see some of these major changes in my lifetime. I was lucky to be part of two such events, Internet and Cell phone. These two disruptions have  changed the way our world has been operating! When Jaya was in the US for her MS, 1980-8;  talking to each other on phone, needed a lot of coordination. We did not have phone at home. So, she would write to me the timing when she would call, that too at someone else’s place. If we were lucky she could get through after ½ hour delay! By next year, I am told that cell phones can be used during the flights too!  That is game changer!

In IC engine cars, the Engine has been the heart for more than 100 years, and car performances have been defined by the quality of the engine! Then the quality of the overall car is said to be better when the exhaust system and engine jointly released least amount of pollutants. Of course, now exhaust parameters are mandatory world over. By 2023 these parameters will be so tough that company like Volvo has already declared that they have decided not to develop any new diesel engines post 2023, as development of the same will not be cost effective! Plus, cities and countries are slowly banning diesel cars to be driven within their boundaries.

The drive train today, is placed physically in between tyres, from front bumper to rear exhaust system! This whole drive train is being replaced in EV’s, (as shown in pictures above) so what will decide the quality of EV’s? What is the Engine for EV’s? The Motors, the electronic controllers, battery pack, inverter and  gear. So, the car which travels more distance per charge, which accelerates faster will be a better car, all are zero emission cars anyway! No, it is not that simple! This is just the beginning of the car revolution! The batteries will have better charge storage per unit area, they may cost lesser and lesser over a period of time but this becomes  commercial aspect. To me battery packs are petrol tanks! Better battery only increases the capacity of the “new petrol tank” and distance traveled per charge!

Major parts in the new drive train for cars are going to be the software and the sensors that are going to be there in a car, besides the battery pack, motors and ECU’s. Around 2010, some vehicles had software with about 10 million lines of codes! In 2016 it is supposed to have increased by 15 times to about 150 million lines of code! The software is related to car autonomy, safety and infotainment related codes. But this is going to change even more drastically over period. The whole system might become  a computer in the car! The car recalls will not be because of faulty clutch or a gear box it will be because of software glitches and sensors!

The cost of software currently in large cars can be about 10% of the Bill of Materials but is likely go up in next 10/12 years to 30%! So, this is going to be the first game changer. What happens to current vendors of engine parts? As the population of EV’s starts increasing, the population of new IC engine cars is going to come down! Instead of one set of vendors, who make drive train parts, new set of vendors from IT industry and electronic industry will take over! So, need for physical RM will start getting replaced by “products” which cannot be seen by naked eye! Players who are currently tier 2 or tier 3 vendors may start becoming tier 1 vendors. At the same time car manufacturers may stand on the toes of Operating system vendors so that they can control the distinct facilities they can offer. This cannibalization is already being observed in case of battery manufacture! Vehicle manufacturers themselves are producing battery packs now. In IC engine cars, batteries have a small functional role whereas in EV’s it is going to be the new “Petrol”! OPEC, I am sure is already having sleepless nights or nightmares!

It looks like software will follow the path of infotainment innovations, autonomous driving capabilities, intelligent safety devices which will be able to work even if some part of software fails! The software will integrate with hardware in the form of sensors! This my friends, is going to be future drive train! The whole system over a period will be of increasing complexity which will need newer and newer algorithms and will generate such a huge data that all the data generated from these cars will have to be stored to cloud! One important aspect of new drive train is temperatures; these are almost at room temperature compared to IC engine cars where exhaust temperatures can go upto 600 deg c! This normal temperature in “New Engine” will allow usage of lot of electronics, sensors, software and ECU’s.

What do we foresee? Basic car with body, trim, seats etc which will keep on changing as is happening now. But it is the “New Engine” in the form of sensors, software, ECU’s and cloud computing that will change the car and make it a different beast than what we see today!

First and foremost will be the infotainment area which will have full connectivity with our single “communicator” which is currently our cell phone! It will have all these functions plus, music, internet hookup, reverse drive screen, automatic parking capabilities. This will use cameras in place of mirrors and it will also be the GPS display screen! What new functionalities will be added is anybody’s guess! Next consolidation will be ECU’s. Currently, there are 8 to 10 of them per car. These will be consolidated over a period, to one or two ECU’s which will handle all functionalities . The “real engine” will be controlled through these ECU’s along with other systems like wipers, window regulators, AC’s and so on. Next important aspect is, each vehicle will generate so much data that storing the same can be an issue. So, all this data will be transferred to cloud. This data can be used for analysis, diagnostics, on improving performance of the vehicle. This will be real life data and give the car makers real life continuous flow of information; product improvement cycles will be much shorter! In most cases in future, product errors will be related more to sensors and software. Software errors can be updated easily by releasing patches to all concerned cars as these cars will always be connected!

Another game changer will be what is going to happen to car service industry! Cars will go to workshops only for sheet metal work! Or small odd jobs! This will also affect vehicle manufacturer’s spare part sales; we know that drive train component manufacturers, will go down over a period! These components will exist only for old cars as no new cars will not need their products!

Another new area that will come up is third party software products! We really don’t know what these products are going to be! Most of the products will be available for passengers, as the driver naturally cannot use them while driving. Oh, I forgot we will have driverless cars at some stage, then all are going to be passengers. So, possibilities are simply unlimited!

I could write on and on and on! Let us wait and watch; there have been car racing games for computers. But now you will be having computers which drive real life cars on real roads! That too on their own! As a game changer or major disruptor of business, it’s a great thing for humanity. But for those who are in business of making current drive train components, it’s going to be a nightmare. As my friend had rightly said during a discussion, “I am ok with this change because it is for my next generation to handle this and not me because real inflexion point could be 2030, by that time I will retire!”